What is a Veterinary Technologist?

Veterinary technologists perform medical tests under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to treat or to help veterinarians diagnose the illnesses and injuries of animals. They usually work in private clinics, laboratories, or animal hospitals.

Also known as: Veterinary Technician, Certified Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Registered Veterinary Technician, Vet Tech

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What does a Veterinary Technologist do?

Veterinary technologists who work in research-related jobs are responsible for making sure that animals are handled carefully and humanely. They commonly help veterinarians or scientists on research projects in areas such as biomedical research, disaster preparedness, and food safety. They most often work with small-animal practitioners who care for cats and dogs, but they may also do a variety of tasks with mice, rats, sheep, pigs, cattle, and birds. Veterinary technologists typically do the following:

  • Observe the behaviour and condition of animals
  • Provide nursing care or emergency first aid to recovering or injured animals
  • Administer anesthesia to animals and monitor their responses
  • Collect laboratory samples, such as blood, urine, or tissue, for testing
  • Perform laboratory tests, such as urinalyses and blood counts
  • Take and develop x-rays
  • Prepare animals and instruments for surgery
  • Administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian
  • Collect and record patients’ case histories

To provide superior animal care, veterinarians rely on the skills of veterinary technologists, who do many of the same tasks for a veterinarian that nurses would for a doctor. They conduct a variety of clinical and laboratory procedures, including postoperative care, dental care, and specialized nursing care. They can specialize in a particular discipline. Specialties include dental technology, anesthesia, emergency and critical care, and zoological medicine.

What is the workplace of a Veterinary Technologist like?

Veterinary technologists typically work in private clinics, laboratories, and animal hospitals. Some work in boarding kennels, animal shelters, rescue leagues, and zoos. Their jobs may be physically or emotionally demanding. They may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.

Veterinary technologists experience a rate of injuries and illnesses that is much higher than the national average. When working with scared or aggressive animals, they may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. Injuries may happen while the technologist is holding, cleaning, or restraining an animal.

Many clinics and laboratories must be staffed 24 hours a day, so veterinary technologists may have to work evenings, weekends, or holidays.

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